Pollinators are responsible for 1 out of every 3 bites of food.
Let that sink in.
Pollinators are also responsible for:
· ½ of the world’s oils, fibers and raw materials
· preventing soil erosion
· increasing carbon sequestration
Without pollinators there would be no ecosystems; there would be no us.
Yet moths, flies, beetles, bees, wasps, other insects, small mammals and bats are often perceived as pests by homeowners who think they fly in the face of a flawless yard. And they think it’s ok to use 10 times more pesticides per acre to obliterate them than farmers do.
But the truth is the perfect lawn comes at a cost. Pesticides, including herbicides, insecticides and rodenticides put pollinators, birds, amphibians and other wildlife in harm’s way, not to mention humans and pets too.
Since pesticides pose a threat to our immune and respiratory systems, studies show they could make those exposed more susceptible to COVID-19, as if it wasn’t lethal enough on its own.
The time is now—we must stop killing ourselves and the environment with pesticides.
Know the risk factors
Of the 30 most commonly used lawn pesticides, 30 are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms vital to our ecosystem, 29 are toxic to bees, 14 are toxic to mammals, and 22 are toxic to birds.
Three billion birds in North America have been lost in the last 50 years in part because of pesticides on lawns.
In 2013, the largest mass bumblebee death was recorded after a pesticide application—50,000 bees representing 300 colonies.
Monarch butterflies have declined by 90% in the last 20 years. Insect populations have declined 45 percent globally since 1974.
Of the 30 most commonly used lawn pesticides, 17 are possible or known carcinogens, 18 have the potential to disrupt the hormonal system, 19 are linked to reproductive effects and sexual dysfunction, 11 have been linked to birth defects, 14 are neurotoxic, 24 can cause kidney or liver damage, and 25 are irritants.
Roundup, the most popular weed killer in the world, has as its most active ingredients glyphosate and 2,4-D, which are particularly toxic and dangerous. Recently a jury awarded more than $2 billion to people who got cancer from glyphosate exposure.
Of the 30 most commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 are detected in groundwater and 20 have the ability to leach into drinking water sources.
Studies show that use of professionally applied pesticides is associated with a significant 70 percent higher risk of canine malignant lymphoma.
Helping the little beings who run the world is easy
We have the power to slow the rate of extinction in our own backyards, and that’s empowering. Our backyards are essentially wildlife preserves that represent the last chance we have for sustaining plants and animals once common throughout the U.S.
It’s easy to go pesticide free as organic and garden care companies are mainstream.
You can even test your own soil to learn what needs to be added and if the pH needs to be adjusted through the Cooperative Extension Service of a state university or soil lab. Ask for organic fertilizers options.
If your soil is hard, compacted and full of weeds or bare spots, aerate it. Use grass seed on bare spots to crowd out weeds. Apply corn gluten meal as a pre-emergent for weed prone areas.
Weeds that are not pulled and removed can be sprayed with horticultural vinegar. Contact local organic lawn and garden care companies for a consultation.
Plant the right plants
Let go of the old habit of planting things because they look pretty but are not ecologically helpful. It’s crucial to include native plants in your yard. For example, if you live in a mid-Atlantic or New England state you can support more than 100 species of bees just by cultivating these six plants: goldenrod (which are #1 in supporting native bees), asters, violets, sunflowers, evening primrose, willows. One good resource is the National Wildlife Federation’s Native plant finder (nwf.org/NativePlantFinder).
Don’t stop there
We can’t forget that the choices we make at the grocery store have an impact on pollinators and insects too. When you choose organic fruits and vegetables grown without pesticides, you’re not only saying pollinators and insects matter, you’re saying you care about biodiversity in general.